I have a new job.
It is keeping me away from my laptop.
It has my dining table in a constant state of activity.
It has me heading to bed at about 8:12 pm each night – just minutes after tucking in the kids and brushing my teeth.
Three weeks ago we made the decision to take Harry out of his class at the local DoDEA school and teach him at home. It wasn’t an easy decision. The list of reasons is long. The bottom line is that I had given hope that he would complete the 3rd grade fully, or even somewhat, prepared to move to our next location; wherever that may be.
While every military move is challenging, I have always felt confident that my kids were in a good place academically to take on any challenge. In the last year that confidence has been shaken. It is why Cait is attending a private virtual school. And now, it is why Harry is spending a whole lot of time with me.
Add to my list of glamorous hats: third grade teacher.
The homeschoolers out there are probably thinking “well, it’s about time.”
The non homeschoolers might be questioning “are you insane?”
I am feeling a bit of both.
It has gone so well over the last three weeks that I am kicking myself for waiting so long. We are having fun and I am amazed at what a one-to-one student-teacher ratio can produce.
BUT, I can see why most homeschool families keep the entire clan at home. The juggle of having 2 kids at school and 2 kids at home presents a variety of challenges, mostly in the transportation department. As tempting as it would be to improve the situation, the two middle schoolers are happy and safe and learning – I don’t want to upset that. In the end we get fairly creative with our driving schedules and try to make the most of any trips to school – it is multi-tasking to the max.
While we have been homeschooling Caitlyn since September, we are really just the adults that make sure she is on top of her schedule, she and her teachers handle the rest. The set-up is going so beautifully, I try to stay out-of-the-way. (If anyone is in need of an online high school, I highly recommend George Washington University: http://www.gwuohs.com/ )
So you can see why this new task of teaching an 8-year-old boy is an entirely different challenge.
Our days look something like this:
We are using the curriculum already in place in the DODEA school. There was no reason to re-invent the wheel. It also helped, A LOT, that my sister is a third grade teacher in NY and she’s using the same set of books. I have an expert to turn to when needed.
I supplement with LOTS of hands on activities. Harry is a big fan of science. One of the nicest aspects of our small class size is that I can tailor the lessons to his interests. It is amazing how you can get a kid to write (even when he HATES to write) and read and do math when you disguise it as his favorite subject. Our only science snafu so far: the father in this family accidentally drank part of our science experiment. Don’t worry – no stomach pumping needed.
Here Harry is growing a bean plant – it is the tallest one, as it was grown in soil and fed with water. Surprising to all of us, the next tallest bean sprouted and grew nourished by diet coke.
We have adopted a class pet, a red and blue beta fish.
Crush is the subject of habitat studies, the leading character in creative writing stories and (obviously) a willing model in art class.
Home economics have led to some great math lessons in everything from shopping, to measuring, to looking at portions and calories. I love real life budget and nutrition learning.
One day a week is called ”Fun with Dad.” This is my day off, or better put: my day to do all the errands, shopping, volunteering, doctor’s appointments, and any other miscellaneous tasks that need to be done but I don’t have time to do the rest of the week. While I am erranding, the two are out exploring the local area. They have been to college basketball games, to the Air Force base and golfing. I love their photo documentation to show me what they did each day.
Learning to play golf.
Uhhhh…. classic film course? (Extra credit for anyone who can name that movie.)
Once I get a better handle on our schedule and find a comfortable pace to our day, I will be back here in full force with travel experiences, recipes and random anecdotes about my crazy kids. And since I hate to leave you out on a limb, I will share a tidbit from our art class from this week.
We were working on the concept of Mosaics and also looking at how one might make art from recycled materials. As Harry was happily cutting and pasting this delightful pumpkin:
He looked up at me in all seriousness and said: “You know, if you would teach me French while we do Art we could call this FArt class.” He chuckled to himself for the rest of the afternoon. Great – I have ONE kid to teach and he ends up being the Class Clown.
I remind myself to have patience and that I will miss this little boy when he outgrows silly humor and potty talk. But based on how hard his father laughed when I told this story later in the day, I am afraid I may be stuck with “bodily function” jokes for the rest of my life.
On my next day off I will be sure to buy Harry’s teacher a REALLY nice Christmas gift. I wonder if she likes coffee, or note cards, or diamonds?